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Catalytic approach to recovering valuable metals from spent lithium-ion batteries

A team from Sogang University and DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology) in S. Korea have developed a catalytic strategy designed to overcome the energy and environmental challenges associated with metallurgical processes for recycling spent Li-ion batteries.

A paper on the work is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

Current recycling technologies utilize extractive metallurgical processes to recover metals, particularly from cathode materials. However, pyrometallurgy requires high temperatures for smelting, while hydrometallurgy relies on toxic chemical reagents for leaching.


Park et al.

The extraction reaction uses an HxRuO2 catalyst in the presence of HNO3, H2, and CO2. Extraction is achieved through the selective hydrogenation of nitrate to ammonia, followed by the carbonation of leached metal species.

The catalytic process successfully achieves nearly complete recovery of Co and Li as carbonates from LiCoO2.

Furthermore, we demonstrate the versatility of this catalytic approach in recovering metals from various cathode materials, including spent LIBs. This newly developed one-pot method offers a promising industrial process for recycling valuable metals from spent batteries in an atom-efficient and environmentally friendly manner, without generating waste.

—Park et al.


  • Hee Sun Park, Hee Jung Yang, Suhyun Kim, Seung‐Tae Hong, Nam Hwi Hur (2024) “Recovery of valuable metals from spent lithium-ion batteries through an ecofriendly catalytic approach,” Journal of Power Sources, Volume 594 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2023.234024.